From a press release by Sen. Frank Lautenberg
Today, a coalition of eleven Senators led by Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D – NJ) called on the Bush Administration to take action in the World Trade Organization (WTO) against eight Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) by ordering United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Susan Schwab to file a complaint with the WTO. These eight countries, operating as an illegal cartel, have refused to increase production, reduced the supply of oil on the market and driven up the gas prices that consumers pay at the pump.
In a letter to Ambassador Schwab, the Senators wrote, “The very existence of the OPEC cartel violates GATT Article XI, which prohibits nations from maintaining quotas or any other quantitative restriction on exports. The refusal of OPEC nations who are members of the WTO to play by these rules is inexcusable, and they must be held accountable. I hope you will inform the President and direct your agency to look into these charges and work to directly confront OPEC’s violations of international law.”
I haven't been able to track down the actual letter. What I found interesting was the other signatories, which included Bob Casey and Dick Durbin, two big Obama supporters. Would Obama take up the cause if elected? Oh, and one other signatory stood out: Hillary Clinton. There was a lot of speculation about why she stayed in the race so long and what she wanted from Obama. Perhaps it was all about OPEC! OK, probably not.
Via the AP, here was USTR's response:
Gretchen Hamel, spokeswoman for the Office of U.S. Trade Representative, said "We have considered this before and remain of the view that under WTO rules filing a (complaint) case cannot be an effective course of action."